The Cosmos extends, for all practical purposes, forever. After a brief sedentary hiatus, we are resuming our ancient nomadic way of life. Our remote descendants, safely arrayed on many worlds throughout the Solar System and beyond, will be unified by their common heritage, by their regard for their home planet, and by the knowledge that, whatever other life may be, the only humans in all the Universe come from Earth. They will gaze up and strain to find the blue dot in their skies. They will love it no less for its obscurity and fragility. They will marvel at how vulnerable the repository of all our potential once was, how perilous our infancy, how humble our beginnings, how many rivers we had to cross before we found our way.
The purity of humanity exists. It is there in the mountains, the ice fields, the jungle, along the rivers and in the valleys. Jimmy Nelson found the last tribesmen and observed them. He smiled and drank their mysterious brews before taking out his camera. He shared what real people share: vibrations, invisible but palpable. He adjusted his antenna to the same frequency as theirs. As trust grew, a shared understanding of the mission developed: the world must never forget the way things were.
by Nicola De Maio, Christian Schlotterer and Carolin Kosiol
“The genomes of related species contain valuable information on the history of the considered taxa. Great apes in particular exhibit variation of evolutionary patterns along their genomes. However, the great ape data also bring new challenges, such as the presence of incomplete lineage sorting and ancestral shared polymorphisms. Previous methods for genome-scale analysis are restricted to very few individuals or cannot disentangle the contribution of mutation rates and ﬁxation biases. This represents a limitation both for the understanding of these forces as well as for the detection of regions affected by selection. Here, we present a new model designed to estimate mutation rates and ﬁxation biases from genetic variation within and between species. We relax the assumption of instantaneous substitutions, modeling substitutions as mutational events followed by a gradual ﬁxation. Hence, we straightforwardly account for shared ancestral polymorphisms and incomplete lineage sorting. We analyze genome-wide synonymous site alignments of human, chimpanzee, and two orangutan species. From each taxon, we include data from several individuals. We estimate mutation rates and GC-biased gene conversion intensity. We ﬁnd that both mutation rates and biased gene conversion vary with GC content. We also ﬁnd lineage-speciﬁc differences, with weaker ﬁxation biases in orangutan species, suggesting a reduced historical effective population size. Finally, our results are consistent with directional selection acting on coding sequences in relation to exonic splicing enhancers” (read more/open access).